Friday, September 20, 2013

The Feedback Plan

I spent some time this week looking at the way I gather feedback from the trials of StrokePlay to try and determine if I could make some improvements which may generate more feedback.

The current feedback route is driven by the uninstaller. When the uninstall is nearly complete the user is asked if they’d like to leave feedback. If they cancel the question window then that’s the end.  If they agree then the feedback page is loaded in to their browser and they can leave feedback - but only freeform comments.

Not great - judging by the number of trial downloads and the number of hits on the feedback page the “No” button is the most used feature of the feedback process.

So, some simple changes:

  1. On uninstall automatically load the feedback page. Most of the trial software I’ve evaluated does this so it’s not uncommon.
  2. Add options to the feedback page to provide easy, but meaningful, choices for the user.
  3. Regularly change the feedback webpage options to see if I can get feedback on features I have planned.

So, there’s a plan of action.  I’ll add one other update in - when I change StrokePlay to remove the choice of going to the feedback page I’ll migrate to Visual Studio 2012.  The build is already done, it just needs an update to the installer and some testing.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Time flies…

….when you’re earning a living.  But, it’s an embarrassingly long time since my last blog post.


I was in a fortunate position when I was in the final push to launch StrokePlay of having a client looking for less of my time and that fitting with me looking for ways to spend more time on ISV work.  So the sudden ability to work part time and use all the new found spare time to finish and launch StrokePlay was fantastic.


The flip side was that I still needed to go back to full time paying work after StrokePlay launched.  Of course, had StokePlay done the unimaginable and started generating lots of sales right from the outset then that would have altered plans, but I was erring on the side of reality.


Move forward to today and where is StrokePlay? 

  • Very modest sales.
  • Trial downloads numbers are consistent
  • Only two minor updates since launch and none in the past year.
  • Doesn’t generate enough sales to pay for its costs yet (hosting, advertising, card handling account, signing certificate etc.).
  • Very little user feedback from purchasers or trial users.


So, since StrokePlay was my first attempt at the ISV world do I need ponder some questions:

  • Was it the right first product?
  • Are there lessons to be learned?
  • What now?


Was it the right product?

I guess this is a difficult question to answer given the amount of time spent developing StrokePlay and the personal investment you make in your products.


But, the indicators are that the golfing market continues to grow and that stats analysis is still an active software market.


Are there lessons to be learned?

Yes, many, many lessons – but my top two are:

  • Momentum

When I returned to full time work I lost the momentum in advertising, blogging, tweeting and website traffic that I’d spent time building up.

I think this was my single biggest issue.  I should have found a way (and time) to regularly focus on these items.

  • Feedback is King.

Early purchasers provided invaluable feedback which led to the two minor updates.  Without user feedback the development lost some direction.  I eventually got direction back and started on the “Version 2” release which is sitting waiting to be completed.

What now?

A difficult question to answer objectively.


Without user feedback and reasonable sales then it looks like madness to spend what time I have in looking at a major update to StrokePlay.  But, are there smaller things that could be done to try and bump up the feedback level from the number of trial users?


Also, given StrokePlay is my first product in the attempt to move in to ISV territory do I chalk this one up as a big learning experience and move on to the next idea?


I think that simply side-lining StrokePlay in favour of a new idea is the easy option. 


But who ever said trying to start a Micro ISV is easy!


Rather than look at large scale changes I think I need to focus on the smaller things and the place to start is with one of my top issues - lack of trial user feedback.  Sales aren’t going to come unless I can work out what’s putting potential purchasers off.


So, to move forward I’ll start looking at my feedback mechanisms and work on ways to boost the information coming from paid users and trial users.